The Bridge of Barbecue: Jeong and Korean Immigration into North Carolina Public Deposited

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  • February 26, 2019
  • Styers, Katherine
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
  • I am sitting around a table with eight other people, all of whom I did not know until three months ago. While I am in South Korea it is my 20th birthday and all of these new friends here together to celebrate with me. The table is full of small and large dishes and two large grills sit in the middle of our table which we will soon be using to grill our dinner. Some of these friends are Korean, some are other exchange students, but during our time in South Korea, we have all picked up the social rules that are attached to Korean barbeque. And maybe that is why my friends choose this place for my birthday dinner. The atmosphere and meaning of this type of food makes it perfect to show our friendship with each other through small, almost unnoticeable social cues during the meal . Who grills the meat, where and when it goes on the plate, who asks for more side dishes, and how the so-ju is pour in the glass all have minute meanings and symbolize more than words how my friends feel about me. This was a pivotal moment in recognizing the powerful force that Korean barbeque has in forging friendships, where every gesture or absence of one speaks for itself. It was when I returned to North Carolina, that I began to feel the absence of this form of communication and miss the ritual of Korean barbeque. Korean barbeque can be bought in more and more locations in the US, but the restaurants I went to never had the Korean barbeque with the environment, ritual, and group of people who all understand the same social rules and meaning behind the meal. Therefore, I began to wonder if or how Korean immigrants were experiencing this absence of cultural exchange and what the effects of this experience were? This research project attempts to understand how Korean food culture, and particularly Korean barbeque has changed with the growing Korean population in the Triangle area of North Carolina. And how relationships are being formed and maintained through specific Korean food or with the absence of it.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Nelson, Christopher
  • Bachelor of Arts
Academic concentration
  • Anthropology
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018
  • English

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